Power-Hewetson Colony: Interpreting the Irish's Importance in Refugio and Aransas Counties and the Texas Revolution

After the War

   This page discusses the Irish colonist who returned to the Power-Hewetson Colony, the present area of Refugio and Aransas counties, and developed the area through ranching.  However, there were some colonists who left the colony during the revolution for other towns such as Victoria and never returned.

Empresario James Power

Power returned to the Power-Hewetson Colony where he lived with his family at Live Oak Point as a rancher.  He established the town of Aransas City in 1837 near the coastline of El Copano Bay where “he opened a mercantile and post office, built a wharf, and established a customs operation.”[1]  Power continued serving the Texas government by attending the “Second Congress and at the Convention of 1845.”[2]   In 1850, James Power was sixty years old and he owned thirty-five thousand dollars worth of real estate.[3] His eldest son James Power Jr. became a rancher and the Power’s ranch is maintained by “descendants of the empresario.”[4]

Thomas O’Connor

Thomas O’Connor, an Irish colonist, also became a famous rancher in the Refugio County.   “At the time of his marriage in 1838, Thomas O’Connor had acquired 7,735 acres in his own right, and his bride’s dowry, [Mary Fagan], brought him additional land and cattle.”[5]  In 1850 Thomas O’Connor owned four thousand dollars worth of property.[6]  By the time of O’Connor’s death he owned over five hundred thousand acres of land and was known as one of the best ranchers in South Texas.  After O’Connor’s death his two sons, Dennis O’Connor and Thomas Marion O’Connor, received the land.  Similar to the Power family, the O’Connor family has passed down the ranch from generation to generation.[7]  


[1] Mrs. Patrick H. Welder, "POWER, JAMES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo36), accessed May 25, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[2] Welder, "POWER, JAMES," Handbook of Texas Online.

[3] Ancestry.com, “1850 United States Federal Census: Black Point, RefugioTexas [database on-line],” M432_914 (Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), 226B.

[4] Louise S. O’Connor, Cryin’ For Daylight: A Ranching Culture In the Texas Coastal Bend (Austin, Texas: Wexford Publishing, 2007), 24.

[5] Graham Davis, Land! Irish Pioneers in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002), 207.

[6] Ancestry.com, “1850 United States Federal Census: [database on-line],” M432_914 (Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), 228 A.

[7] O’Connor, Cryin’ For Daylight, 16.

1.   Can you think of any other large ranchers from the South Texas area?

2.   Compare the difference between the life east coast Irish immigrants to the Coahuila y Texas Irish immigrants.

3.   How do you think the Irish immigrants learned how to ranch?

    The Texas soldiers need to be remembered as individuals to understand the reasons Irish immigrants moved to Mexico and fought for independence from Mexico. 

Primary Sources

United States Census Bureau. “1850 United States Federal Census: Black Point, Refugio, Texas [database on
    -line].” M432_914, Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009,http://search.ancestry.com/iexec?

                . “1850 United States Federal Census: Not Stated, Refguio, Texas [database online].” M432_914, 
    Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009,
. Not+Stated.3.

Secondary Sources

Davis, Graham. Land! Irish Pioneers in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas. College Station: Texas A&M 
    University Press, 2002. 

O’Connor, Louise S. Cryin’ For Daylight: A Ranching Culture In the Texas Coastal Bend. Austin, Texas: 
    Wexford Publishing, 2007.

Welder, Mrs. Patrick H. "POWER, JAMES." Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State          
    Historical Association.
(accessed May 25,
Created By: Kaitlin E. Wieseman
August 2011